El Dorado (movie, 1988)

El Dorado is afilmco – produced bySpain,FranceandItaly, directed byCarlos Saurain1987and released in1988.

The film relates historical events previously mentioned in the cinema by Werner Herzog with Aguirre, the wrath of God ( 1972 ).


The quest for the mythical kingdom of Eldorado obsesses the Spanish conquerors . The film by Carlos Saura opens on a long scene inspired by a story made by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. The conquistadores of Quito had heard in 1534 that an Indian tribe from the highlands of Cundinamarca (in present-day Colombia ) celebrated annually a ceremony during which a cacique with a body covered with gold powder bathed in the waters of a sacred lake and engulfed, as an offering to the gods, gold and silver objects 1. This sequence takes the form of a dream to explain the organization of a great fluvial expedition of discovery and conquest of the territories of Omagua and Eldorado by the Crown of Spain , from 1559 . On September 26, 1560, the commander of the fleet, Pedro de Ursúa, weighed anchor with several hundred men of all origins and conditions. At his side, as an assistant, we find Lope de Aguirre, a conquistador with the reputation of violent and cruel man. The expedition will prove, at the end of a year, extremely trying and hardly convincing. The atmosphere of the jungle, the diseases and the hostile attitude of the natives slow down the progress of the expedition. In addition, internal rivalries eventually decimate the troops. Aguirre, obstinate and ambitious, then foments a rebellion during which Pedro de Ursuá and his mistress are murdered. In March 1561, Aguirre, in opposition to the wishes of King Philip II of Spain , was proclaimed “Prince of Peru , Land-Farm and Chile ” …

Technical sheet

  • Original title: El Dorado
  • Director and screenplay: Carlos Saura
  • Artistic direction: Terry Pritchard , Peta Button
  • Sets: Maritza González
  • Costumes: Gerardo Vera
  • Photography: Teo Escamilla
  • Sound: Gilles Orthion
  • Music: Alejandro Massó
  • Editing: Pedro del Rey
  • Production: Andrés Vicente Gómez
  • Production Companies :
    •  Televisión Española , Compaña Iberoamericana of TV , Iberoamericana Films Producción
    •  Radiotelevisione Italiana , SACIS
    •  Canal + , Chrysalide Film , France 3 Cinema , General Union of Cinematography
  • Country of origin: Spain / France / Italy
  • Original language: Spanish
  • Format: color – 35 mm – 2.35: 1 ( Panavision )
  • Genre : Historical Movie
  • Duration: 149 minutes
  • Release dates: Spain :  ; France : 


  • Omero Antonutti : Lope of Aguirre
  • Lambert Wilson : Pedro de Ursúa
  • Eusebio Poncela : Fernando de Guzman
  • Gabriela Roel : Inés of Atienza
  • Inés Sastre : Elvira, the daughter of Lope de Aguirre
  • José Sancho : The Bandera
  • Patxi Bisquert : Pedrarias, the chronicler
  • Francisco Algora : Llamoso
  • Feodor Atkine : Montoya
  • Abel Vitón : Henao
  • Paco Merino : Alonso Estebán
  • Mariano González : Zalduendo
  • Gladys Catania : Juana

Around the film

  • The achievement of Carlos Saura is clearly distinguishable devoted great film only precedent to Lope de Aguirre , namely the film Werner Herzog dating from 1972 . With the collaboration of Terry Pritchard, Artistic Director and coordinator of historical research, Saura has embarked on a process of reconstructing the past with precision and thoroughness. The basic material is provided by chronicles written at the time of the facts considered. Their authors are not mentioned by name in the film, but are cited in a synthetic form through the character of Pedrarias ( Patxi Bisquert). He gives us excerpts of his diary through a voice over which punctuates the film 2 .
  • Many elements denote a desire for fidelity to the sources: veracity of names, facts and gestures of the main members of the expedition, respected historical chronology, shooting in natural settings in an environment similar to those mentioned (in Costa Rica ), attention to detail and large-scale reconstruction involving actors from several countries and more than six hundred extras (in particular a hundred Briand Indians from the Cordillera Talamanca , on the border of Panama ). Habitat, armor and clothing were imitated identically. The whole of this staging thus required a very considerable budget – more than a billion pesetas, ituntil then – and exceptional efforts due to particularly harsh climatic conditions: the excessive humidity rust objects and cameras, for example, had to be protected in air-conditioned containers at the end of the day 3 .

Notes and references

  1. ↑ in: F. Geal: Eleven films by Carlos Saura, filmmaker of memory , Aléas Publisher, Lyon , 2006.
  2. ↑ in: Eleven films by Carlos Saura , op. cited .
  3. ↑ Facts cited in the book by François Géal: op. cited .

Leave a comment